Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This Year's Second Big Trip

Condo Week is coming! Condo Week is coming!

Yes, this year's Condo Week will be in Blaine, Washington, just across the border from the Great White North, and I'm already on my way. I left San Antonio yesterday, drove up the freeway (yecch) all day to spend a Monday night in Oklahoma City. (I had to put the top up when it hit 95 degrees; it topped out at 104. Today, by contrast, it never hit 80.)

Several years ago, Oklahoma City did some advertising that made it seem the kind of place I might like to spend a weekend in, so this trip started with a test of that idea. I think now that I'm cured of my desire to spend several days there.  The most interesting thing I saw was the pedestrian bridge across Interstate 40, which connects a large park on the south side of the freeway to what I hope is the seediest area of downtown. The old Union Station, now used for the city's Parking Division, sits at the north end of the bridge, but beyond that are about six blocks of absolute waste before you get to downtown proper.

Note the truck on top
of the self-storage place
From there it was off to Bricktown, an entertainment district in the corner of downtown between two freeways. It seems to be a recently renovated area where they've dug a canal in imitation of
San Antonio's River Walk. Looks like they bought all the old-style river barges when SA upgraded some years back. Maybe in 20 years it will be nicer, but it seems right now to be a shamelessly and pathetically commercial endeavour with none of the charm that makes the Paseo del Rio such an attraction. With luck, though, local businesses (as opposed to the national chains) will move in to give it a uniquely Oklahoma flavour that it now lacks. Right now it's more like a Las Vegas-style mall spread along a fake river.

The thing that most struck me was a sign I saw in a small grassy area next to one of the new upscale apartments just north of Bricktown. There's something radically wrong with the nanny attitudes of a place when they post signs that forbid letting your dog poop on the grass. I think next time I come to Oklahoma City I will save up my dog's output for a couple of weeks, and deposit it along the sidewalks in that area.

Early Tuesday I was out of the hotel, planning to spend a couple of hours hiking in Red Rock Canyon, about an hour west of town. A pretty place: you descend sharply on a tightly curving road until you're in a small forested canyon between sandstone walls. Unfortunately, the only trail in the park, Rough Horsetail Trail, was closed because of flood damage, so I only spent about half an hour in the park.

Then it was up to Liberal, Kansas, where I saw the Land of Oz, which, to be honest, was not worth stopping for. It's the kind of tourist attraction that gives small towns their reputation for being lame. It actually is lame, though I'm sure Liberal is a nice place to live.

From there I went up to Monument Rocks, possibly the country's best-kept secret. I was there a couple of years ago with a friend; this time I spent about an hour wandering around the hoodoos by myself, not another soul in sight. The sky, this time, was more dramatic, and it was later in the day (and much cooler!). I loved it, and took way too many pictures (most of which can be seen in the online album).

And if anybody (besides me) is keeping track, today I went through the last two unvisited counties in Kansas. Tomorrow I'm off to see a Pony Express station and the Highest Waterfall in Nebraska. And I should go through six new counties in that state this trip.

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